Let’s get it out of the way. I’ve never been the biggest Bob the Builder fan. Maybe I was spoiled by Mitch Barnhart — in the sense that I expect athletic directors to be charismatic and able schmooze at will. Excitable and upbeat. A visionary, even if he/she is a little unrealistic.
As a result, I was never a fan of DeCarolis’ conservative nature and bean-counter approach. I’m all for being honest, real, and direct. But at times, it was hard get fired up about Beavers athletics during DeCarolis’ tenure.
There’s also the matter of some of his personnel moves. He could be extension-happy (Jay John) retain coaches too long (Craig Robinson), and what really bothered me was how he handled the entire LaVonda Wagner situation. There’s no way what unfolded should’ve even gotten to that point — it should’ve been addressed much sooner.
But my biggest criticism of DeCarolis centered around the athletic department’s inability to market the Beavers effectively. There didn’t seem to be sense of urgency or desire to highlight successful programs and athletes, which could have helped with recruiting, as well as wooing the casual fan. OSU needs to win over more of those fans, not only to generate more revenue, but build excitement.
That said, a lot was accomplished during DeCarolis’ tenure — enough to easily counteract my views on his legacy (Hence the title of this post). He ran a clean ship and did so the right way, while working to reduce the department’s debt.
True to his nickname, a lot of things got built during his time at the helm including the Truax Center, the OSU Softball Complex, the OSU Basketball Center. Meanwhile, Reser Stadium and Goss Stadium are among the facilities that got expanded. Most recently, plans were announced to renovate and expand the Valley Football Center.
And as of late, DeCarolis made outstanding hires in Scott Rueck (women’s hoops), Wayne Tinkle (men’s hoops), and Gary Andersen (football). Rueck has already proven to be a rousing success, while Tinkle and Andersen provide Beaver Nation with a lot of hope and excitement for the future.
To that end, I have to respect DeCarolis’ overall body of work and recognize that he’s leaving the athletic department in much better shape than it was when he stepped into the role. As a Beaver fan, that’s all I could’ve could’ve asked and wanted from the guy.
So Bob, thanks for all you did for Beavers athletics, Oregon State University, and the Corvallis community. I wish you the best in your future endeavors and know you will do it with class and integrity. Best wishes to your health and family. Go Beavs!
Finally, here’s a quick look at who could replace DeCarolis, based a little on logic and a lot of wishful thinking.
Likely hire: Mark Massari. Is in his second stint at OSU, this time serving as deputy athletic director, after spending six years as the University of California, Santa Barbara’s AD. He knows OSU and its strengths and weaknesses. He would provide a seamless transition and could continue the momentum that DeCarolis built recently. On the other hand, it would be nice to look outside of OSU and see who is interested in the position, because like Andersen, you just never know.
My preferred OSU-ties hire: Todd Stansbury. He’s in his fourth year as vice president and director of athletics at the University of Central Florida. Two years ago, he helped UCF transition from Conference USA to the ACC. The program also has made great strides academically. Having worked as associate AD at OSU from 2003-2013, he’s also very familiar with Beavers athletics. Disclaimer: I have a family connection to Stansbury, and have heard nothing but good things about his personality. He’s spoken of very highly.
Home run (pipe dream) hire: Greg Byrne. In his sixth year as Arizona’s AD, it seems very, very unlikely that Byrne would make what is most likely a lateral move. But OSU should swing for the fences, because he would be a freaking grand slam. Just look at his track record at Mississippi State and UA, they are nothing short of impressive — as well as at Oregon State, where he was an associate AD from 1998-2002. That, along with the fact he and his wife have Oregon roots, is why he might consider OSU. That said, don’t hold your breath.
Who do you think Oregon State’s next AD should be? What do you think about DeCarolis’ legacy?